A Q&A With Katy Vine

The senior editor on embracing enthusiasm, going birding with Victor Emanuel, and wading through tall grass.
Rare Bird
Katy Vine

To delve into the mysterious yet subtly captivating world of birding under the celebrated tutelage of Victor Emanuel is nothing short of fabulous. Emanuel, who operates one of the oldest ecology tour companies in the world, has made a prosperous career out of what began as a cherished pastime. For her most recent story, Katy Vine observed Emanuel in his element, out in the wild among the birds. Here’s the story behind the story.

Victor Emanuel has been considered an expert in his field for a long time. Why a story about him now?
There’s no rhyme or reason to the timing; he’s one of those iconic subjects that was right under our noses, and I thought, “Why haven’t we done this before?”

Had you ever been birding, or bird watching, before you began working on this story?
I hadn’t ever been birding before this story, but I was sure lucky to get Emanuel as a guide. You don’t need an innate love of birds to appreciate his enthusiasm.

How did you prepare for this story? Was it difficult to keep up with the terminology?
I started by reading as much about Emanuel as I could from old newspaper clippings and magazine articles. He appears a lot in Peter Matthiessen’s writing, so I read those, too. Then I checked out all the books on birding from the central library and made some notes. After that, I had a lunch date with Emanuel and realized that while all of my research would help me keep from sounding like a total idiot, Emanuel was going to be my main source of information. Some subjects require prodding to discuss their interests—not

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